© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Copies of Apple Day by day newspaper are seen at its printing facility after police raided its newsroom and arrested 5 executives, in Hong Kong, China early June 18, 2021. REUTERS/Jessie Pang By Tyrone Siu HONG KONG (Reuters) -The professional-democracy Hong Kong newspaper Apple (NASDAQ:) Day by day seemed set to
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Copies of Apple Day by day newspaper are seen at its printing facility after police raided its newsroom and arrested 5 executives, in Hong Kong, China early June 18, 2021. REUTERS/Jessie Pang
By Tyrone Siu
HONG KONG (Reuters) -The professional-democracy Hong Kong newspaper Apple (NASDAQ:) Day by day seemed set to shut for good by Saturday following police raids and the arrest of executives – a transfer that rights teams say would undermine town’s popularity as a free and open society as Beijing tightens its grip.
An adviser to the jailed proprietor and staunch Beijing critic Jimmy Lai instructed Reuters on Monday the newspaper could be compelled to close “in a matter of days”.
In an inner memo to employees seen by Reuters, the Apple Day by day stated: “The Board will resolve on Friday whether or not (the corporate) will proceed to function.”
“If the board decides to not proceed to function on Friday, on-line will cease importing at 23:59 p.m. on the day, newspaper will stop operation after publishing the June 26 version.”
Apple Day by day and Subsequent Digital administration couldn’t be reached for remark.
Owned by Lau’s Subsequent Digital, Apple Day by day is a well-liked tabloid based 26 years in the past that mixes pro-democracy discourse with celeb gossip and investigations of these in energy. It has been a robust critic of the Hong Kong and Beijing governments.
Police raided the newspaper final week in a nationwide safety investigation through which senior Apple Day by day executives have been arrested for alleged “collusion with a international nation” and property of three firms linked to the newspaper have been frozen.
Late on Monday, Hong Kong media reported that Apple Day by day and its on-line version would stop operations by Wednesday as most of its workers had resigned.
The looming demise of Apple follows the imposition of nationwide safety regulation on the previous British colony final yr in response to mass pro-democracy protests in 2019, and concern within the West that Beijing is stifling freedoms and taking better management over the semi-autonomous metropolis, a commerce gateway and monetary centre.
Police have stated dozens of Apple Day by day articles have been suspected of violating the brand new safety regulation – the primary case through which authorities have cited media articles as probably violating the contentious laws.
Editor-in-Chief Ryan Regulation and Chief Govt Officer Cheung Kim-hung have been charged with collusion with a international nation and denied bail on Saturday. Three different senior executives have been additionally arrested on Thursday and launched pending additional investigation.
Three firms associated to Apple Day by day are being prosecuted for collusion with a international nation and authorities have frozen HK$18 million ($2.3 million) of their property.
The corporate stated within the memo the board had despatched a letter to Hong Kong’s Safety Bureau to ask that some property be unfrozen to ensure that it to keep away from violating labour legal guidelines by failing to pay employees. The corporate requested the Safety Bureau to answer by Friday.
The Safety Bureau stated on Monday it could not touch upon case particulars because of ongoing authorized proceedings and any utility associated to the frozen property could be dealt with in accordance with the regulation.
“Endangering nationwide safety is a really critical crime,” it stated in a press release to Reuters.
The newspaper stated in a Sunday article that it was contemplating difficult the choice to freeze property in courts, ought to the Safety Bureau reject the request.
The workplace of town’s chief govt didn’t reply to a request for touch upon Monday. Beijing’s chief consultant within the metropolis, the Liaison Workplace, additionally didn’t reply to requests for remark.
The arrests and scale of the Apple Day by day raid have been criticised by Western nations, world rights teams, press associations and the chief U.N. spokesperson for human rights.
Safety Secretary John Lee stated final Thursday the police operation towards the Apple Day by day was geared toward those that use reporting as a instrument to hazard nationwide safety and didn’t goal the media trade as an entire.
China’s Overseas Commissioner’s Workplace stated on Thursday the nationwide safety regulation protected press freedom and warned exterior forces to “hold their fingers off Hong Kong”. Press freedom can’t be used as a “protect” for many who commit crimes, it stated.
Subsequent Digital has come beneath rising strain since Lai was arrested final yr beneath the laws. Lai, whose property have additionally been frozen beneath the safety regulation, is in jail for participating in unauthorised assemblies.